In my last article, I covered an overview of the current recommendations regarding diet and cancer risk reduction. One of the eight recommendations is something that I think many people overlook. This is the topic for today’s article: Salt!
The recommendation from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) regarding salt is to “Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).”
Most people know that consuming too much salt in their diet can increase blood pressure and heart disease risk. Salt can also increase risk for cancer, specifically stomach cancer. The AICR panel of experts found that salt and salt-preserved foods probably increase the chance of developing stomach cancer because high salt intake can damage the lining of the stomach.
Must Know Sodium Facts!
The first thing to know about sodium is how much our bodies need. Yes, we actually need some sodium for optimal functioning. The minimum amount needed is about 1500mg/day. The maximum recommended is 2300mg/day. And here’s what the average American consumes:
Men: Between 3,100 and 4,700 mg/day
Women: Between 2,300 and 3,100 mg/day
WOW! That’s a problem!
Salt, at the levels present in the diets of most people around the world, is probably the single most harmful substance in the food supply.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest:
- Consuming more salt tends to increase blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
- Sodium intake–mostly from salt–has drifted upwards over the past 30 years and now averages about 4,000 milligrams per day–about twice the recommended amount.
- The vast majority–about 77 percent–of sodium comes from processed foods and foods eaten outside the home.
- Many restaurant meals provide more than a whole day’s worth of sodium. Thousands of packaged foods provide one-fourth or more of a day’s maximum recommended intake.
- Many health and medical organizations have advocated a 50 percent reduction in sodium in processed and restaurant foods over the next 10 years.
- Reducing sodium consumption by half would save an estimated 150,000 lives per year. That in turn would reduce medical care and other costs by roughly $1.5 trillion over 20 years.
Here’s how much sodium is in table salt:
1/4 teaspoon salt = 600 mg sodium
1/2 teaspoon salt = 1200 mg sodium
3/4 teaspoon salt = 1800 mg sodium
1 teaspoon salt = 2400 mg sodium
1 teaspoon baking soda = 1000 mg sodium
In the next few articles I’ll highlight how much sodium is in packaged and restaurant foods as well as practical ways that you can cut back on your sodium intake.